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Pakistan: Partners in blasphemy | A case of strange bedfellows

There are reports that the present government (like the previous one)will be unable to fulfill its commitment as religious groups inPakistan have threatened street and legislative protests if the revisedbill is introduced.

Ahmadiyya Times | News Staff |
Source & Credit: Dawn Blog | March 13, 2010
By Aroosa Masroor & Jessica Magee

Last week, an interesting story in the Pakistani media went unnoticed in which an eminent Islamic jurist Dr Muhammad Aslam Khaki threatened to register a blasphemy case against the federal government for comparing the controversial National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) to the Charter of Madina.

The jurist was referring to the review petition filed against the recent NRO verdict by the Supreme Court of Pakistan that declared the ordinance unconstitutional, ordering the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to reopen all the corruption cases against a number of senior political figures and government officials who were earlier protected under the NRO.

In Khaki’s opinion, the Charter of Medina was an accord between Muslims and non-Muslims to promote mutual patience and tolerance under the leadership of the Prophet Muhammad – not to hide each other’s crimes. Comparing this peace accord with the NRO is therefore unjustified.

He further argued that contrary to the Medina Charter under which both the parties agreed to reconcile, the NRO was an agreement between a dictator and a political party to cover each other’s corruption cases and comparing the actions of the Prophet to a dictator amounts to blasphemy. According to him, the government is liable to be prosecuted under the country’s blasphemy laws – ironically introduced by another dictator in Pakistan in 1986.

There couldn’t have been a worse time for this accusation against the present government that is in the process of amending the Blasphemy Law to prevent its misuse by extremist groups. Although minority groups and human rights activists in Pakistan have time and again called for the repeal of this law, the government only has some “procedural changes” to offer for now.

There are reports that the present government (like the previous one) will be unable to fulfill its commitment as religious groups in Pakistan have threatened street and legislative protests if the revised bill is introduced.

Also, for a country like Pakistan that is leading 56 other Islamic nations in lobbying for an international legislation against blasphemy at the UN, calling for a repeal of the national blasphemy law is out of the question. It is worth mentioning here that Pakistan’s initiative to lead the nations of Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) is propelled by religious groups in the country rather than the government itself in an attempt to ‘Islamise’ the Pakistani society.

These groups claim that insults against Islam and the Holy Quran are on the rise in the Pakistan and are hence seeking an international cover to suppress religious minorities in the country. They, however, have no evidence to back their claim.

Over the past two decades, hundreds of cases have been registered under the country’s blasphemy law, which is known to be one of the most stringent laws. The penalty includes a mandatory death sentence for defaming Prophet Mohammad, but no one has been convicted so far. However, in a recent case in Lahore, a Christian was awarded life imprisonment for desecrating the Holy Quran. In several other cases, alleged blasphemers have died at the hands of mobs even before the police could intervene.

Secular groups in Pakistan have long demanded that the law should be repealed, primarily arguing that Islam should not be the only religion protected under the anti-blasphemy law. As one activist with the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan rightly points out: “There is no need for an anti-blasphemy law. Laws are for humans, not beliefs and ideas. You can’t limit one’s thoughts.”

At an international level, western democracies also reject the basic premise that religions should have rights. The focus, they argue, should be on equally protecting the rights of the adherents of all religions as well as those who choose not to practice religion at all.

Imam Yahya Hendi, an American Muslim scholar who was in Karachi recently, echoes these views. “While I do believe that all religions should be respected, I don’t think I would support a legislation in this regard, which will eventually be used as a political sword,” he told a group of journalists. In his opinion, such a law would also discourage people from discussion and debate about different religions of the world, adding that one needs to be more tolerant of criticism against religion and learn to fight back with sound arguments instead of “seeking protection behind laws.”

One interesting exception to the generally laissez-faire attitude towards the concept of blasphemy in the West is the case of Ireland, whose government surprised everyone last summer by introducing a law against blasphemy.

The legislation imposes criminal penalties and fines of up to €100,000 on anyone found guilty of ‘publishing or uttering matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion.’

The Irish Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern insisted that he was obliged to reform the existing 1961 Irish law on defamation, which ruled that a person can be both fined and imprisoned for up to seven years for the crime of blasphemous libel.

“My intention is to remove the possibility of prison sentences and private prosecutions for blasphemy,” said Mr Ahern, who argued that the only alternative to bringing in a new law was to change the constitution by a national referendum, “a costly and unwarranted diversion” from the country’s financial crisis, he said.

But it seems that Minister Ahern did not realize the worldwide ripple effect that was to be prompted by a small piece of legislation in a small western democracy. The law has been seized upon by groups from the extreme left to the extreme right of the political and religious spectrum across the globe.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), a 56-nation regional security group, warned that the Irish blasphemy law could flout international standards on the freedom of speech and have a ‘chilling effect’ on the freedom of expression.

Elsewhere, a group named Atheists Ireland launched a controversial online campaign opposing the legislation which garnered worldwide attention. They posted 25 written or and uttered quotations which have been categorised as blasphemous under various laws, attributed to figures including Jesus Christ, Prophet Muhammad, Pope Benedict XVI, Mark Twain, Salman Rushdie, and singer Bjork.

Yet, while the law was largely criticized and condemned in the West, other groups decided to hold up the Irish blasphemy law as an international model.

Religious groups in Pakistan are using the Irish law to spearhead the campaign, mentioned earlier in this article, for an international law against blasphemy. The OIC has borrowed word for word the text of the Irish legislation in their submission to the UN Ad Hoc Committee on the Elaboration of Complementary Standards calling for the adoption of a global principle against defamation.

And so, while the members of Atheists Ireland run the risk of prosecution and fines for their open challenge to the Irish blasphemy law, the government of Pakistan is being charged with the same accusation from hard-line Islamists for comparing the NRO with the Charter of Medina.

The real question is to determine which party is caught in the middle of all these polemic views. Does a law against blasphemy protect against the incitement of religious hatred, or does it promote intolerance and extremism?

Hard-line religious groups in Pakistan and the Irish government both favour the former argument. And the government of Pakistan, which is struggling to dilute its Blasphemy Law in order to prevent its misuse by extremists, finds itself on the same side of the fence as Atheists Ireland.

A case of strange bedfellows, indeed.

This blog was co-authored by Aroosa Masroor and Jessica Magee.

Aroosa Masroor is a Karachi-based journalist. Jessica Magee is a freelance print and broadcast journalist based in Dublin, Ireland.

Read the original article here: Partners in blasphemy

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Swedish Cartoons Intended to Offend: The offense went beyond freedom of speech

Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA does not condone the actions of the seven individuals arrested in Ireland on Tuesday for an alleged plot to kill Vilks.  The Qur’an protects freedom of speech in at least four instances and, on five occasions prohibits any action be taken against any blasphemer other than refraining to be in such company.  So any retaliation against Lars Vilks is outside the teachings of Islam and, thus, condemned by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. [AMC – USA]

Ahmadiyya Times | News Staff |
Source & Credit: Ahmadiyya Muslim Community – USA
By Dr. Waseem A. Sayed | AMC-USA Spokesman
Edited by Ahmadiyya Times.

The offensive cartoon depicting the founder of Islam as a dog goes beyond freedom of speech

According to the press release issued, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA strongly condemned the recent publication in Sweden of a very offensive cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad with the body of a dog.  “This supposed expression of freedom of speech is nothing more than a malicious attempt to offend the sentiments of an entire religious body,” said the press release.

“The re-publication of this 2007 cartoon by Swedish newspapers serves no purpose than to create civil unrest,” says Dr. Waseem Sayed on behalf of the AMC-USA.  “Lars Vilks, the artist behind the controversial cartoon, admitted his intention was to insult when he said ‘there’s nothing that is so holy you can’t offend it.”

“The cartoon was printed to preserve freedom of speech and demonstrate extremists cannot intimidate non-Muslims, but the cartoonist and newspapers are making the mistake of mixing extremists’ views with Muhammad’s views,” Dr. Sayed said.

“Lars Vilks has done nothing more than shout fire in a crowded theater” said Dr. Nasim Rehmatullah, Vice President of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA.  “This is not freedom of expression.  This is an attempt to insult a prophet, and Muslims are opposed to the insult of any prophet.”

The press release stated that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA does not condone the actions of the seven individuals arrested in Ireland on Tuesday for an alleged plot to kill Vilks.

“The Qur’an protects freedom of speech in at least four instances and, on five occasions prohibits any action be taken against any blasphemer other than refraining to be in such company.  So any retaliation against Lars Vilks is outside the teachings of Islam and, thus, condemned,” said the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.

Islamic law generally opposes any depiction of any prophet, not just Muhammad.  To this end, Muslims do not create drawn or sculpted depictions – even favorable – of any prophet.  Islam teaches its followers to have respect for all faiths, and it is our hope that others will exhibit the same respect for the founder of Islam that Muslims exhibit for the founders of all other faiths.

About the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community:

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is a dynamic, reformist and fast growing international movement within Islam. The community known for its anti-jihadi stance was founded in 1889, and spans over 190 countries with membership exceeding tens of millions. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA, established in 1921, is the first American-Muslim organization.   www.alislam.org or www.mta.tv.

Contact: Waseem Sayed, Spokesperson, AMC-USA – 909-636-4397 – waseem.sayed@ahmadiyya.us

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Faith & Country: Ahmadi Muslims give out 100,000 leaflets to promote peace

Naseer Dean, president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association of London,said: “The true peaceful Islam is poles apart from the hatred that ispreached by a minority.

Ahmadiyya Times | News Staff |
Source: Community Newswire | March 12, 2010
By Emma Foster | London

One of Britain’s oldest Muslim communities has distributed more than 100,000 leaflets across the capital in a bid to change to people’s perception of Islam.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim community has distributed leaflets on the subjects of loyalty, freedom, equality, respect and peace, throughout South-west London, to counter the extremist groups that they say “hijack the faith for political ends”.

The campaigners hope that by the end of the year 10% of homes in London will have received the leaflets. The programme will then continue for 10 years until all homes in London have been reached.

The leafleting, organised by The Ahmadiyya Muslim Association of London, is part of a nationwide campaign supported by the website http://www.LoveForAllHatredForNone.org.

The campaign was launched in January, when messages of peace and freedom from the community were placed on 100 buses in central London.

The aim of the campaign is to change the perception of Islam by clarifying its true teachings and emphasising the need for these to be put in practice by all Muslims.

Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, worldwide leader of the International Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, said: “A true Muslim can never raise his voice in hatred against his fellow citizens, nor for that matter against the ruling authority or government of the time… he should remain loyal and fully abide by the laws of the land of which he is a subject.”

Naseer Dean, president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association of London, said: “The true peaceful Islam is poles apart from the hatred that is preached by a minority.

“Such extremists do not represent Islam, yet through their exploitation of the media, their words and deeds have a damaging impact on community relations and the daily lives of Muslims and non-Muslims.

“By emphasising the values highlighted in this campaign, we hope to facilitate a better understanding of Islam so that people are able to judge for themselves the actions of those who claim to speak and act in its good name. Islam stresses the promotion of peace in words and deeds.”

There has been unanimous bipartisan support for the campaign nationally, regionally and locally, including statements from David Cameron MP, Shahid Malik MP, Nick Clegg MP to name but a few.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim community has more than 160 million followers across the world. Its motto is “Love for All, Hatred for None”. For more information about the community’s campaign visit www.LoveForAllHatredForNone.org.

Read original post here: Muslims give out 100,000 leaflrts to promote peace

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Religion and Logic: Earthquakes and other calamities and the end times

Messiah of this age, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad had a revelation: AWarner came into the world and the world did not accept him; but Godwill accept him and will establish his truth through powerfulassaults.[Majmu‘ah Ishtiharat, vol. 3, p. 518]

Ahmadiyya Times | News Staff | Excerpts
Source & Credit: Google Knol | A Unit of Knowledge
By Dr. Zia H. Shah | Upstate, NY

According to the Muslim understanding, all the prophets before the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, had only local mission, in keeping with the facility of communications in those times. The message of Prophet Muhammad had global significance and his message was to be fully demonstrated according to the traditions in latter days at the time of second coming of Messiah. Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, is the Messiah of the latter days promised by the Prophet Muhammad. The mission of Promised Messiah, may peace be on him, is to demonstrate the elegance and beauty of Islam to the whole world. He has come with a universal message to establish the Universal Brotherhood of mankind in all the continents of the planet earth.

Ahmad’s mission is universal and God’s help and succor and plan to demonstrate Islam’s elegance in the latter days has a global scope. Allah has said in the Holy Quran:

“He (Allah) it is Who has sent His Messenger with the guidance and the Religion of truth, that He may cause it to prevail over all religions, even if those who associate partners with God hate it.” (Al Quran 61:10 & 9:33)

The message of this verse is repeated a third time, also, with a slightly different emphasis in the Holy Quran:

“He (Allah) it is Who has sent His Messenger, with guidance and the Religion of truth, that He may make it prevail over all other religions. And sufficient is Allah as a Witness.” (Al Quran 48:29)

God’s plan is not punishment for punishment’s sake but to lead mankind to greater truth as is apparent from numerous verses quoted in the knol from the holy scripture.

In order to distinguish between ‘natural disaster’ or ‘Divine punishment’ read a comment below with the title ‘Natural Disasters or Divine Punishment?’

Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has a nuance position about these calamities. We are always at the forefront of showing compassion to the victims and providing humanitarian aid to them.

Read the entire post here: Earthquakes and other calamities and the end times

Dr. Zia Shah practices Critical Care Medicine, Pulmonary Medicine, SleepMedicine and Internal Medicine in Upstate New York. Dr. Shah graduatedwith an MD 25 years ago. He is a member of The Muslim Sunrise masthead [www.muslimsunrise.com] and the editor of Alislam – eGazette [www.alislam.org/egazette]. Dr. Shah is the editor of his very popular Google Knol representing Islam-Ahmadiyya perspective.

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Faith & Logic: Christianity | A Journey from Facts to Fiction

Time can distort reality into myths and legends. Influence of suchlegends only serves to distance man from the realities of life. As aresult, faith becomes imaginary and unreal. Whereas true faith has itsroots in the verities and facts of history, it is very real and potentenough to bring about significant changes in human society.

Ahmadiyya Times | News Staff | Excerpts
Source:Christianity: A Journey from Facts to Fiction
Islam International Publications | http://www.alislam.org
By His Holiness, Mirza Tahir Ahmad (1930-2003)

The person of Christ is vitally important to the contemporary world. His importance does not remain confined to the Christian world alone but also to other major religions such as Judaism and Islam in particular. If these powerful religions were to unite in one common understanding about the nature of the person of Christ, his first and also his promised second advent, then such an understanding would lead to the resolution of many problems confronting mankind today. Unfortunately, even the very basic facts about the life of Jesus, his purpose, ideology and person are completely misunderstood. In their perception of these aspects, these religions are so strongly at odds with each other that a bitter rivalry among them becomes inevitable.

When we look at the facts of Crucifixion and consider what happened and why it happened, Redemption and its related philosophy, we find conflicting answers from various early sources. I have chosen to address this question solely from a logical point of view. I believe that this is the only platform, common to all, which can be used for a fruitful constructive dialogue. Otherwise, any discussion on the basis of what the individual scriptures present, along with their various interpretations, would lead to a tangle of controversy from which it would be difficult to wriggle out of.

Two thousand years have already come to pass, yet based on the scriptures alone, no solution, which could be equally acceptable to all, has been reached. The crux of the problem is that the very reliability of certain scriptural claims is further compounded by their various divergent explanations. Also, immense complications arise out of the gradual growth of conflicting understandings revolving around the historical person of Christ. The vision of a historic perspective generally tends to be fogged and obscured. By any standards, the passage of two millennia is no ordinary obstacle in perceiving events as distant as the time of Jesus. Human logic and reason, further aided by the dawn of scientific knowledge, has neither creed, nor colour nor religion. It is common to all peoples and religions alike. Logic and logic alone could provide us with a basis for consensus.

I will attempt to examine the problem from different vantage points. First, let me begin with Christianity and view it as the Christians see it and then critically analyse it under the magnifying glass of reason. I must emphasize however, that I do not mean to be disrespectful in any way to Christians or to the person of Jesus Christ. As a Muslim, it is a fundamental article of my faith to believe in the truth of Jesus Christ, and to accept him as a special and honoured messenger of God, holding a unique position among the prophets of Israel. But where truth demands, in all fairness to logic, common sense and human understanding, one cannot abstain from revising one’s views on Christianity. My purpose is not to drive a wedge between Christians and Christ. On the contrary, I wish to help Christians come closer to the reality of Jesus Christ and away from the myth created around him. (Excepted from ‘FOREWORD OF THE BOOK’ [… more])

Read more: Christianity: A Journey from Facts to Fiction

Inspiration credit: Dr. Zia H. Shah | Google Knols

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Faith & Culture: Islam and chastity

Chastity as a moral virtue holds a very high place in the code of Islamic laws that govern relation between sexes. 

Ahmadiyya Times | News Staff | Excerpts
Source & Credit: AlIslam.org | Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
By Nasir Mahmood Malik | Los Angeles

Islam is based on the laws of nature. Allah created our universe and provided Islam as guidance for us to properly and optimally benefit from His creation without getting hurt. Islam provides us a system of norms and values, a code of conduct, to a healthy, productive and peaceful life in this world and earn the forgiveness, mercy and pleasure of Allah along the way.

In our secular and ‘emancipated’ society, people seem to have difficulty in seeing the significance and relevance of various Islamic norms and values, like chastity and modesty. To this society, Islamic mores seem antiquated and impractical. This is partly due to a lack of understanding of specific Islamic teachings, but mostly it is due to the lack of proper comprehension of the overall objective and the philosophy of Islamic teachings.

We live in a promiscuous society where we need to continually remind ourselves about the pivotal role chastity plays in our daily lives and how at risk we are if we are not diligent in guarding our chastity. We routinely hear and observe how dangerous it is to drink and drive. Yet, when people are warned about the dangers of drinking, they just laugh it off thinking that they can handle it or that nothing bad can happen to them. One of the ways to get their attention is to show them the mangled bodies and vehicles after fatal accidents.

Similarly, it is ironic that, living in this society, people routinely see the inevitable devastating consequences of unchaste behavior, yet most of them do not take chastity seriously.

Let me share with you one NBC report about the effects of careless behavior. Sex is a biological necessity and a controllable urge. However, according to this report, for many, the urge for sex is an addiction. A growing number of medical experts say that compulsive sexual behavior is a real disorder that an estimated 16 million Americans, both men and women, or about 5% of the US population, are fighting.

According to this report, such addicts do not get that way in one day. They begin on this path with easy access to risky material like ‘soft porn’ in magazines, movies, and internet, etc. Unrestrained, they develop the natural urge to act out what they see and thus the visuals progressively become practical experiences. Over time, those experiences become addictions. These people lose their peace of mind, their jobs, their families, and their dignity. They suffer from diseases, shame and guilt. They become frightened and many even become suicidal.

Even if we consider such an addiction as an anomaly, we commonly observe how unchaste behavior results in life altering consequences like unwanted pregnancies, infanticide in the form of abortion or abandoned babies, premature marriages of the unwilling and the unprepared, broken families, shortened careers, shattered dreams, personal shame, embarrassment for the family and the friends and so on. All this is happening around us to the religious as well as the secular, to the rich and the poor, to the ordinary and the powerful, and to the simple and the elite, alike.

No wonder Islam puts a high emphasis and special premium on chastity. Islam wants to protect us from any such nightmares by admonishing us not even to have unchaste thoughts.

In general, the objective of Islamic teachings is to guide and enable mankind to lead a purposeful life; the ultimate purpose being to recognize, serve and worship our Creator. Allah says in the Holy Qur’an:

“I have not created the Jinn and the men but that they worship Me.” (Al Qur’an, 51:57)

To accomplish this purpose, Islam teaches us a set of dos and don’ts and our obligations to Allah and Mankind. Both of these obligations arise out of Love. A cursory reflection on the manifestations of Allah’s Grace and Mercy evokes a natural Love of Allah. This Love is called Taqwa. This Love naturally evolves into the Love of His Creation, Mankind, because when one truly loves someone, one begins to love everything about that person. Our success lies in winning the pleasure of Allah through the adequate discharge of these obligations. However, the proper discharge of both these obligations requires piety of mind and purity of nature, that is, chaste mind and chaste behavior.

We commonly observe that when people meet their beloved, they prepare themselves physically – they wash up, don good clothes, wear aromatic fragrance and put on a smile. In short, they do everything they can to accentuate their physical appearance and attraction. Similarly, to fulfill our obligations to Allah and Mankind, we need to enhance not only our physical but moral and spiritual attraction, in part by nurturing chaste mind and chaste behavior.

The philosophy of Islamic teachings is continuous improvement of our character, through self–‐restraint and discipline. Allah has endowed us with wonderful faculties. However, it is the proper use of these faculties, in the right measure and at the right time, that improves us. For example, sexual urges are natural and by themselves are neither good nor bad, but proper response to these urges is meritorious and separates us from animals. The Promised Messiah, may peace be upon him, has succinctly explained that Islam wants us to progressively move from our natural state, to the moral state, and ultimately to the spiritual state. It is this progression wherein lie our success, peace of mind and the ultimate mercy and pleasure of Allah. [.. more]

Read the full article here: Islam & chastity

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Faith & Logic: The real revolution – Islam and media

The Ahmadiyya Movement … launched a worldwide satellite TVnetwork (Muslim Television Ahmadiyya) that constantly streams theirmessage across the world via Free to Air Satellite, SkyTV in Britainand on the World Wide Web at www.mta.tv.

Ahmadiyya Times | News Staff | Int’l Desk
Source & Credit: St. Louis Islam Examiner | March 8, 2010
By Basiyr Rodney | St. Loouis, MO

Over the past decade, faith based communities the world over has used modern media to promote their message and deliver their stance. Jehovah Witnesses, Latter Day Saints, Muslims and most communities of faith maintain an active web presence. There are high levels of book publishing and media usage among members. It is therefore surprising that some groups continue to deal with the same criticisms that they have been faced with for centuries.

When we look at the Muslim community, we continuously hear that the community does not condemn violence. The enduring perception is that Muslims in general and Muslim leadership in particular does not condemn violent attacks on people. In the wake of the recent Muslim and Christian violence in central Nigeria we are sure to hear more of these criticisms.

Muslims however have been speaking loudly and forcefully on their position. At the international level some Muslim groups have maintained a position that Islam is committed to peace as a part of their doctrinal position. They have used media and public gatherings to promote this message. The Ahmadiyya Movement for example, launched a worldwide satellite TV network (Muslim Television Ahmadiyya) that constantly streams their message across the world via Free to Air Satellite, SkyTV in Britain and on the World Wide Web at www.mta.tv.

At the regional and national levels other Muslim groups have pushed for similar calls. Most recently European Muslim clerics have called for peace in Pakistan (http://www.euro-islam.info/2010/01/02/european-muslims-call-for-peace-in-pakistan/). Muhammad Tahir ul-Qadri a Muslim cleric from recently issued a Fatwa against terrorism Certainly this is not the first time that this has been done even among mainstream Muslims, however this one was covered with much fanfare from the international media.

Muslim youth especially has been active on the Internet promoting the voice of Islam in its purist sense. For more than two years, two Muslim law students have recorded a live show on blogTalkRadio called the Real Revolution (http://www.therealrevolution.org). The name of the show goes back to a 1950’s Islamic lecture entitled “The Real Revolution”. The radio show deals with all things Islamic. They now have an active group of weekly worldwide listeners. Their message – Islam is a faith of peace and tolerance.

Here in St. Louis, area Muslims also promote their position through online and local media. There is a website http://www.stlislam.org that acts as clearing house for information on the faith. It links to some area mosques and gives some insight into the local Muslim community. Local Muslims also participate in the Interfaith partnership and other community gatherings. Recently The MSA at St. Louis University (http://msa.slu.edu) hosted a national gathering of Muslim youth called Saving the Deen.

It is not so much that Muslims have not been talking or promoting peace with and in the media. Today’s news is characterized by sensationalism and divisiveness. Its hard to hear the sound from the noise. We all have to go searching to find truth.

Read the original article here: The real revolution – Islam and media

Basiyr Rodney is a faculty member in the School of Education at WebsterUniversity in St. Louis, MO. Basiyr speaks locally and nationally onIslamic subjects in school and college forums, as well as at interfaithgatherings. His advocacy is based on the Islamic maxim, “love for all,hatred for none,” aimed at fostering mutual harmony, tolerance, andcross-cultural understanding among diverse individuals.

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New York, USA: Ahmadiyya Muslim Community celebrated life and person of Prophet Mohammad

The speakers highlighted the Life of the Holy Founder of Islam, ProphetMohammad from various perspectives, including his examples as theliving Quran, the Preacher of a Green Planet, his moral excellences,his success as a human being, lessons from the Farewell Address, andhis stature as the Perfect Preacher.

Ahmadiyya Times | News Staff | US Desk
Source: Ghulam Rabbi & Siddique Rahim
Edited by Ahmadiyya Times Staff

A symposium organized by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community (AMC) of New York on the life of the Holy Founder of Islam, Prophet Mohammad was held on March 7, 2010.

The event held at Ahmadiyya Muslim Baituz Zafar Mosque was attended by nearly 200 people from all segment of the society.

The gathering was called to order by Mr. Ghulam Rabbi, AMC’s secretary for interfaith dialogue and community outreach for the New York Chapter, who acted as the master of the ceremonies (MC) for this occasion.

The event was started with the recitation of a portion from the Holy Quran by Mr. Muenuddin Ahmed and Mr. Ghulam Rabbi greeted the guests and the speakers; and thanked everyone for their participation.

The President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, NY chapter, Mr. Nazir Ayaz delivered the welcome address. 

Some of the presenters recited Urdu and Arabic poems in praise of the Holy Founder of Islam, Prophet Mohammad.

Many distinguished personalities were in attendance and several spoke very eloquently and left audience spell bound.

The speakers for the event included Mr. Kareem Sharif, Secretary of education for Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, NY chapter; Imam Benjamin Bilal of Signs of Life; Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, author of Green Deen: How American Muslims Go Green; Imam Tahir Mustafa Kukaj from Albanian Islamic cultural center; Al Hajj Shaykh TA Bashir, Asst. Sec General of Council of African Imams and Founder of House of Peace (HOP); and Imam Inamul Haq Kauser, the missionary of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.

The speakers highlighted the Life of the Holy Founder of Islam, Prophet Mohammad from various perspectives, including his examples as the living Quran, the Preacher of a Green Planet, his moral excellences, his success as a human being, lessons from the Farewell Address, and his stature as the Perfect Preacher.

The  event concluded with a vote of thanks by the MC, Mr. Ghulam Rabbi,  to the speakers, attendees and organizers.

The event was attended by several print and digital media representatives and an Urdu language newspaper has already reported on the event.

The host chapter of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, New York, offered gifts of books to the guest and dinner was served to all attendees.

Imam Kauser led the congregation in a silent prayer.

— Ahmadiyya Times staff

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Humanity First: Newspaper’s appeal fund boosts Haiti relief effort

Humanity First has been successfully working with Aquabox ((a UK Rotary organisation) for many years across a number of disasters in Asia.
 

Ahmadiyya Times | News Staff |
Source & Credit: Hold the Front Page | March 11, 2010
By Tamlyn Jones for Hold the Front Page

A reporter who spearheaded a press campaign to boost a local charity struggling in the recession has witnessed its work first hand in Haiti.

Derby Telegraph journalist Claire Duffin spent six days on the Caribbean island which has seen 200,000 deaths following the earthquake in the capital Port-au-Prince on 12 January.

In November, the Northcliffe daily launched ‘Give Water, Give Life’ in a bid to raise £138,000 for Aquabox, a Derbyshire-based charity which sends vital water purification kits to communities affected by poverty or natural disaster.

Due to the recession and the Indonesian earthquake in September, Aquabox had virtually run out of stock and was desperately appealing for more donations.

The Telegraph’s appeal fund now stands at over £200,000 with Claire filing news, features and pictures over five days this week detailing how its readers’ donations are being used in Haiti.

With the help of local translators and volunteers, she visited camps and schools to see the devastating effects and how people are coping two months on.

The 25-year-old told HTFP: “It was much worse than I imagined it would be and you can’t see the situation improving.

“There’s no money for them to rebuild their houses but even if there were, they’re too scared to do it in case another earthquake hits.

“It was an interesting and very eye-opening experience. I don’t think I was prepared for how bad the situation was still, but it was a fantastic experience all the same and encouraging seeing the great work the different aid organisations are doing out there.”

Aquabox is run by the Rotary Club of Wirksworth which financed the trip and flights for Claire.

While in Haiti, she was accommodated by and worked closely with Canadian aid organisation Humanity First.

Telegraph deputy editor Neil White added: “Aquaboxes can be the difference between life and death to those desperate for clean water in a disaster zone.

“They have been distributed throughout the world from Derbyshire for years but the charity was running out of funds and that is why we started our campaign.

“Sending a reporter to Haiti gave us the opportunity to show our readers first hand the devastation caused by the earthquake and the considerable impact Aquaboxes, that they have paid for, are having.

“Hopefully, these heartbreaking stories will prompt them into giving even more.”

Read original article here: Newspaper’s appeal fund boosts Haiti relief effort

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Humanity First: Regina psychologist returns from volunteering in Haiti, changed by experience

“The adults were more reserved and didn’t look as happy as the childrendid. But if you took a second to say ‘Hi’ or ‘Bonjour’, people wouldlight right up and engage in conversation. They are very strong people.If anyone is going to make it out of this OK, it’s them.” Dr. Katherine Owens.

Ahmadiyya Times | News Staff | Int’l Desk
Source & Credit: Leader-Post | March 10, 2010
By Pamela Cowan, Leader-Post | pcowan@leaderpost.canwest.com

REGINA — Treating traumatized Haitians has left Dr. Katherine Owens a changed woman.

“I really appreciate what we have here, but also I value my own skills,” she said Wednesday. “I can go somewhere like Haiti and make a difference. To know that means that you have to act on it a little bit more. It’s increased my appetite for helping in situations like this.”

The Regina psychologist volunteered to go to Port-au-Prince with Humanity First — a Canadian-based, charitable relief organization. From the time she left Regina on Feb. 17 until her return Feb. 28, she estimates she treated 150 individuals.

When asked how she fared emotionally, she said: “I was a little bit more prepared than some other people just because I have travelled to other areas, such as Africa, which had similar levels of underlying poverty — but this was destruction on top of poverty.”

Owens will never forget Dadadou — a large tent city set up on the turf of what had been a soccer field in Port-au-Prince.

“It was very intense. There were 6,000 people living on a soccer field under sheets and tarps,” she said. “A few lucky folks have tents, but most people don’t.”

She found Haitians in tent cities needed more psychological treatment than those in outlying regions.

“People who are living under a sheet with a bunch of people they don’t know are in a much harder situation,” Owens said. “Most of those people were in Port-au-Prince when the earthquake happened and it was harder struck. People in the outlying areas might not have seen the same devastation and they’re living close to their same families, same friends and same churches they had before this.”

The senior psychologist at the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region’s mental health clinic treats adults with anxiety disorders.

She’d expected to treat adult Haitians for post-traumatic stress disorder, but that wasn’t the case.

“It’s not really post-trauma yet,” Owens said. “There’s still aftershocks every day and there’s earthquakes at night, so it’s still acute stress.”

Many suffer from palpitations, blurry vision, nausea and insomnia.

“They were quite worried they had something physically wrong or that this problem would never go away, but from my perspective, all of that was fairly normal responses to what they were experiencing.”

She also worked with children and their caregivers at an adoption centre/ daycare facility.

“The kids were very smiley and friendly,” Owens said. “The adults were more reserved and didn’t look as happy as the children did. But if you took a second to say ‘Hi’ or ‘Bonjour’, people would light right up and engage in conversation. They are very strong people. If anyone is going to make it out of this OK, it’s them.”

Sadly, aid is still slow to reach Haitians.

“The UN was handing out food rations and coupons, but only to the women,” Owens said. “They assumed there would be less problems with crowd control if they handed it out to women. If you are a single male in Port-au-Prince, that leaves you in a real bad spot.”

pcowan@leaderpost.canwest.com

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